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Chapter One "A Strange Man" Opposition Emerges at the Council of Saragossa

1. Priscillian, Tract. 2, 34.19-35.5. [BACK]

2. Supporting the interpretation of the term electi Deo as holders of clerical office, see E.-Ch. Babut, Priscillien , pp. 92-96, and José María Ramos y Loscertales, Prisciliano: Gesta rerum (Universidad de Salamanca, 1952), pp. 11-14. Note that Babut and his followers frequently highlight such language in the Letter to Damasus without sufficiently acknowledging its rhetorical function to uphold the legitimacy of the episcopacy of Priscillian and his supporters; they thereby falsely exaggerate the degree to which Priscillian and his circle actively sought clerical office. [BACK]

3. Severus, Chron. 2.46. [BACK]

4. Cf. the suggestion of Manuel C. Díaz y Díaz that ex vicino indicates an ideological rather than geographical closeness--i.e., Hyginus was a "rigorist" like Priscillian ("L'Expansion du christianisme et les tensions épiscopales dans la Péninsule Ibérique," Miscellanea Historiae Ecclesiasticae 6, Congrès de Varsovie 1 [1983]: 89). [BACK]

5. Jerome, De viris inlustribus 123; cf. Priscillian, Tract. 1, 3.9. [BACK]

6. Severus, Chron. 2.46. [BACK]

7. Note that the reliability of Severus' identification of Hydatius as the chief provoker of the dissensions may be slightly compromised by his own intense dislike of Hydatius and his ally Ithacius based on their later activities in Gaul. Severus constructs an even more condemning portrait of Priscillian's opponents than of Priscillian. See Jacques Fontaine on the nuanced allusion to Sallust's Catiline in Severus' portraits of Priscillian, Hydatius, and Ithacius ("L'Affaire Priscillien ou l'ère des nouveaux Catilina: Observations sur le 'sallustianisme' de Sulpice Sévère," in Classica et Iberica: A Festschrift in Honor of the Rev. Joseph M.-F. Marique, S.J., ed. P. T. Brannan, S.J. [Worcester, Mass: Institute for Early Christian Iberian Studies, 1975], pp. 355-92). See Ralph W. Mathisen on the disputes in Severus' own day that biased him so strongly against Ithacius and Hydatius ( Ecclesiastical Factionalism and Religious Controversy in Fifth-Century Gaul [Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1989], pp. 11-26). [BACK]

8. Severus, Chron. 2.46. [BACK]

9. Ibid. 2.47. [BACK]

10. Puech, "Origines du priscillianisme," p. 209, and Ramos y Loscertales, Priscilliano , p. 44. [BACK]

11. Jacques Fontaine, "Société et culture chrétiennes sur l'aire circumpyrénéenne au siècle de Théodose," Bulletin de littérature ecclésiastique 75 (1974): 241-82. I see no evidence, however, of Priscillian's influence having spread into Aquitaine at this point, in agreement with Puech ("Origines du priscillianisme," pp. 81-95), and against Babut ( Priscillien , pp. 79-91). Babut goes so far as to suggest possible Aquitanian origins for Priscillian's movement by positing the leadership of the rhetorician Attius Tiro Delphidius, whom he identifies with the Elpidius referred to by Severus. [BACK]

12. Acts of the Council of Saragossa (hereafter ACS ), ll. 18-20; line numbers correspond to the critical edition of Felix Rodríguez, "Concilio I de Zaragoza: Texto crítico," in Primero Concilio Caesaraugustano: MDC aniversario (Zaragoza, 1981), pp. 9-25. [BACK]

13. Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , p. 13. Babut's proposal that the Aquitanians head the list because of their status as foreign guests is less convincing ( Priscillien , p. 5). Both Jerome ( De viris inlustribus 108) and Sulpicius Severus ( Chron. 2.44) speak highly of Phoebadius as a steadfast opponent of the Arians, and Phoebadius' name stands first in the episcopal list of the letter of the Synod of Valence (374). [BACK]

14. Delphinus' later hostile reception of Priscillian and his Bordeaux "converts" is discussed in Chapter 3 below. Note, however, that Delphinus remained on friendly terms with the aristocratic Paulinus, later of Nola, who converted to an ascetic life some years after the outbreak of the Priscillianist controversy; five letters in the extant correspondence of the ascetic Paulinus are addressed to Delphinus ( Epp. 10, 14, 19, 20, and 35). [BACK]

15. Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , pp. 12-13, 20-21. [BACK]

16. Priscillian, Tract. 2, 40.1-27. [BACK]

17. Exemplar professionum habitarum in concilio Toletano contra sectam Priscilliani aera ccccxxxviii , (hereafter Exemplar ), ll. 71-72. Line numbers correspond to the critical edition in Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , pp. 234-39. If Symposius did indeed leave the Saragossan council after one day, were the eight judgments promulgated by the council, to which his name is affixed, formulated on that first day, or were some or all formulated in his absence? [BACK]

18. See Jerome, Ep. 69.2, and Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , pp. 12-13. [BACK]

19. Benedikt Vollman considers it probable that Hydatius presided over the council ("Priscillianus," col. 500). [BACK]

20. Sulpicius Severus' account implies that some among Priscillian's circle had already been excommunicated before the council, presumably by Hydatius, but that the excommunication had not been recognized by Hyginus. The council's fifth judgment against dissenting bishops was then applied retroactively to excommunicate Hyginus; see Chron. 2.47. This latter point appears unlikely, and Babut suggests that the Severan text be amended to read commonefaceret instead of communione faceret , indicating that Hyginus was formally warned by the council rather than excommunicated ( Priscillien , p. 138 n. 2). Another possibility is that Sulpicius Severus has collapsed the time frame in which events occurred and falsely attributed Hyginus' subsequent excommunication on the basis of the council's fifth judgment to the council itself. [BACK]

21. Severus, Chron. 2.47. [BACK]

22. Priscillian, Tract. 2, 35.19-21. [BACK]

23. Ibid., 35.24-36.6. [BACK]

24. E.g., Priscillian Can. Ep. Pauli 35, 44, 47. [BACK]

25. E.g., Priscillian, Tract. 4, 58.13-20. [BACK]

26. Ramos y Loscertales, Prisciliano , p. 47, and Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , p. 23. [BACK]

27. Priscillian, Tract. 2, 42.11-12. [BACK]

28. Ibid. 3, 51.10-12. [BACK]

29. Ibid. 2, 41.21-23. [BACK]

30. Ibid., 35.15-19; see also 35.21-22; 39.20-21; 40.7-8; 42.19-21. [BACK]

31. Ibid., 35.22-24. It is unclear whether this letter of Damasus was addressed to the council itself; if so, Damasus' later refusal to intervene in the controversy seems more surprising. [BACK]

32. Exemplar , ll. 70-71. [BACK]

33. Severus, Chron. 2.47. [BACK]

34. This solution, which assumes that both Priscillian and Severus are telling at least partial truths, is supported by Vollman ("Priscillianus," col. 502), based in part on the argument of Ramos y Loscertales ( Prisciliano , pp. 55-62), and more recently by María Victoria Escribano Paño ("Sobre la pretendida condena nominal dictada por el Concilio de Caesaraugusta del año 380," Primero Concilio Caesaraugustano: MDC aniversario [Zaragoza, 1981], pp. 123-33). Cf. Babut's dismissal of Severus' evidence as deriving from the lies of Ithacius ( Priscillien , pp. 39-41). Chadwick offers an alternative harmonizing interpretation: he suggests that while the formal sententiae of the council did not condemn the Priscillianists by name, there may have been minutes that included attacks on named individuals and gave rise to rumors that they had in fact been officially condemned; these rumors may be reflected in Priscillian's vehemence in denial as well as in the later accounts of Sulpicius Severus and the acts of the Council of Toledo ( Priscillian of Avila , pp. 27-28). [BACK]

35. Exemplum sententiarum episcoporum concilii Cesaragustani, quarto Nonas Octbrs (ACS , ll. 16-17). The document as it has been transmitted also includes the epigraph "Concilium Cesaragustanum XII episcoporum," along with summaries of the judgments, which are provided as a table of contents at the beginning of the Acts and reappear as headings for each decision. It can be deduced from the form of the other conciliar documents included in the Hispana that the epigraph was added to the Acts of the Council of Saragossa by the author of the Hispana ; the summaries appear to have been part of the source that the author of the Hispana used, but were clearly added sometime after the original drafting of the conciliar acts and can therefore also be disregarded in the present consideration (Gonzalo Martínez Díez, La colección canónica hispana , 1: Estudio [Madrid, 1966], pp. 247-53, and Rodríguez, "Concilio I de Zaragoza," p. 11). The text that provided the source for the compiler of the Hispana did not include the year, with the result that the compiler was unable to place the Acts in proper chronological order (Rodríguez, "Concilio I de Zaragoza,'' pp. 10-11, and Martínez Díez, Colección canónica hispana , 1: 293). Perhaps the names of the consuls, by which the year would have been identified, were dropped in a period when this method of dating was no longer used or understood. One derivative family of manuscripts of the Hispana (Paris B.N. lat. 3.846, s.ix; Paris B.N. lat. 1.455, s.x med.; see Martínez Díez, Colección canónica hispana , 1: 14, 205) seems to include a date of 418 of the Spanish era, i.e., 380 C.E.; on this, see Babut, Priscillien , pp. 244-48. Since this date of 380 accords well with the known dates of other events of the controversy, it is generally accepted without question. There is no independent manuscript evidence witnessing to the form of the text before it was incorporated into the Hispana circa 633-36. A summary of the council's eight judgments contained in the Spanish Epitome , compiled in Spain between 598 and 610, does, however, provide independent verification of the number and basic content of the judgments recorded in the acts ( El epítome hispánico: Una colección canónica española del siglo VII , ed. Gonzalo Martínez Díez [Comillas: Universidad Pontifica, 1961], p. 179). [BACK]

36. Hamilton Hess, The Canons of the Council of Sardica, A.D. 343 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1958), p. 35. In addition to the Saragossan acts, examples of such "stenographic records" include the Canons of the Council of Sardica , with which Hess is primarily concerned, various series of African canons from the second half of the fourth and beginning of the fifth centuries, and the acts of a Roman synod under Pope Hilary in 465 (p. 25). [BACK]

37. Hess, Canons of the Council of Sardica , pp. 28-29. [BACK]

38. Ibid., p. 26. [BACK]

39. Note that the emphasis that Hess and others have placed on the importance of the Senate as a model for Christian synods has been questioned by Philip Amidon, who suggests that while the Roman Senate and Christian synods did indeed stand "in the same procedural tradition," this tradition was so widely diffused in the practices of councils and assemblies that "it has lost any specific identification with the Senate of Rome" ("The Procedure of St. Cyprian's Synods," Vigiliae Christianae 37 [1983]: 328-39, 339). [BACK]

40. Hess, Canons of the Council of Sardica , pp. 30, 32. [BACK]

41. Ibid., pp. 36-38. [BACK]

42. At the conclusion of the Acts of the Council of Carthage (390), the bishops give a blanket statement of approval for all of their judgments, without, however, reciting these judgments at length: "Genedius episcopus dixit: Omnia ergo quae a vestro coetu gloriosissimo statuta sunt, placet ab omnibus custodiri? Ab universis episcopis dictum est: Placet, placet, ut custodiantur ab omnibus." The Anti-Priscillianist Professions from the Council of Toledo (400) culminate with the reading of more lengthy minutes, but there is no episcopal acclamation at all ( Exemplar , ll. 69-154). I am not aware of any direct formal parallels to the Acts of the Council of Saragossa , a document centered entirely on the reading of the minutes and including a statement of episcopal acclamation after the reading of each judgment. Note further that the acclamations following the first two judgments include the only statement of penalty in those judgments; this indicates that the acclamation is more than a mere ratification of the minutes. [BACK]

43. Samuel Laeuchli, Power and Sexuality. The Emergence of Canon Law at the Synod of Elvira (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1972), 10-55. [BACK]

44. ACS , can. 1, ll. 24-29. [BACK]

45. Laeuchli, Power and Sexuality , pp. 19-21. This general rule holds true for all eight of the Saragossan judgments, although in several cases the naming of the person is indefinite or ambiguous. [BACK]

46. Note that Laeuchli discusses analogous interjections of emotional justifications into the judgments of the Council of Elvira (ibid., pp. 23-26). The phrase virorum alienorum is sometimes taken to refer to men alien to the catholic church, i.e., "heretical" or "Priscillianist" men. So Roger Gryson: "According to the historical context, the 'foreign men' referred to in this canon are the Priscillianists" ( The Ministry of Women in the Early Church , trans. J. Laporte and M. L. Hall [Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 1976], p. 101). Others find it more probable that the phrase refers to men alien to a woman's family (Ramos y Loscertales, Prisciliano , pp. 49-50, and Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , p. 14). Vollman assumes with greater specificity that the phrase refers to men other than a woman's husband, which allows him to conclude that ascetically inclined married women are the target of the judgment: "Ich lese aus dem virorum alienorum heraus, dass es sich um verheiratete Frauen handelte, die in ihren Familien lebten, aber asketisch bzw. theologisch interessiert waren" ("Priscillianus," col. 547; so also Díaz y Díaz, "A propósito del Concilio de Zaragoza de 380 y su canon VI," in Primero Concilio Caesaraugustano: MDC aniversario [Zaragoza, 1981], p. 226 n. 3 and p. 227). While Vollman's conclusion seems unwarranted, it is unnecessary to eliminate either of the two options of ''nonfamilial'' and "heretical," since both meanings seem to be exploited by the council's rhetoric and indeed one reinforces the other, not least through the invocation of a shared sexual imagery. [BACK]

47. Note that there is a textual variant that replaces the initial vel with nec , in which case the second clause is a further prohibition rather than a concession, and the point is that women are not to meet in any study groups, whether mixed-sex or segregated. This reading occurs in only one of fourteen significant manuscripts; the reading vel is therefore to be preferred. See Rodríguez, "Concilio I de Zaragoza," p. 18. [BACK]

48. Manuel C. Díaz y Díaz has pointed out that the phrase "reading and meetings" is one of several instances of the redactor's use of hendiadys, a figure of speech in which a single complex idea--in this case, meetings at which the reading of scripture took place--is expressed by means of two words connected by a conjunction--reading and meetings ("A propósito del Concilio de Zaragoza," pp. 228-29). Díaz y Díaz also notes that such rhetorical devices have tended to obscure the canons' meanings for later readers (p. 226 n. 3). For example, the author of the index and section headings that accompany the judgments in the Hispana collection has simplifed the text of the first canon to read simply coetibus instead of lectione et coetibus . This abridgement intends to clarify but actually distorts the sense of the canon, which refers more specifically to meetings of Christians at which scripture was read. More recent interpretations similarly generalize the meaning of "meetings" by treating "reading" and "meetings" as two separate items. For example, Ramos y Loscertales notes that while meetings for the purpose of reading and instruction are emphasized, the decision may also refer to other types of meetings, such as prayer meetings, or even possibly the practice of ascetic men and women living together as celibate couples ( Prisciliano , pp. 49-50). [BACK]

49. Priscillian, Tract. 3, 52.25-53.2, 53.15-18. [BACK]

50. Note, however, that some scholars seem to interpret this second clause as describing a practice observed by the groups being censured. Babut assumes that it refers to an activity of the Priscillianist ascetics: "Les religieux, en effet, les hommes et les femmes tantôt réunis, tantôt séparés, s'assemblaient entre eux pour lire et expliquer les livres saints" ( Priscillien et le priscillianisme , p. 83). Ramos y Loscertales likewise assumes that both practices--meeting together and meeting separately--were followed by the Priscillianists. Combining the evidence of the judgments of the Council of Saragossa with Priscillian's reference to a distinction between those who forsake the world and those who are not able to accomplish such a total renunciation ( Tract. 2, 36.1-6), he suggests that there were three different modes of instruction of the female followers of Priscillian: the individual instruction by an ascetic man of a widow or virgin living in ascetic seclusion in her own home; the direction by an ascetic man of a group of ascetic women living in community; and, finally, group study sessions of women following a less rigorous ascetic lifestyle, which were taught by other women ( Prisciliano , pp. 49-50, 109-10). Ramos y Loscertales is followed in this highly speculative reconstruction of Priscillianist women's organization and instruction by J. M. Blazquez, "Prisciliano, introductor del ascetismo en Hispaña," in Pimero Concilio Caesaraugustano: MDC aniversario (Zaragoza, 1981), p. 81. Curiously, none of these scholars invokes the variant textual reading of nec to support interpretations implying that not only the first but also the second clause of the first Saragossan judgment is prohibitive in import. [BACK]

51. Laeuchli notes that only 5 percent of the judgments of the Council of Elvira invoke scriptural justification; he finds no correlation between the importance of the canon and the use of scriptural justification ( Powe and Sexuality , p. 25). In the case of the Council of Saragossa, however, it is interesting to note that the only two judgments invoking scriptural justification--can. 1 and can. 7--both reflect the bishops' uneasiness with the role of lay teachers in the Christian community. [BACK]

52. This use of the masculine form futuros in the final sentence creates a possible ambiguity. Opposition to male (and possibly female) teachers will come out directly in the sixth judgment, although in less passionate form. Are the women targeted in the first judgment because they are the primary source of outrage? Or is the first judgment indirectly targeted at the male teachers as well, while appearing to focus on a group who can be accused with less risk? [BACK]

53. Cf. Laeuchli's discussion of analogous threats of punishment in the judgments of the Council of Elvira ( Power and Sexuality , pp. 38-41). [BACK]

54. In contrast, penance seems to be required in can. 6, for example, while perpetual exclusion from the community is specified in can. 3 and can. 4. [BACK]

55. ACS , can. 2, ll. 32-39. Díaz y Díaz briefly discusses the textual difficulties associated with the use of the phrase de quadragesimarum die (here translated "during Lent") where one might expect quadragesimae diebus ("A propósito del Concilio de Zaragoza," p. 226). [BACK]

56. Difficulties arise above all in determining the relationship of the parts of the judgment to one another. My own tendency is to assume that the parts of the judgment are somehow interconnected. But it is also possible to view Sunday fasting, Lenten withdrawal, and rural asceticism, for example, as three separate and unrelated ascetic practices prohibited within one judgment. Retirement on a rural estate is a form of ascetic lifestyle particularly well attested in Spain and Gaul, as well as elsewhere. See Jacques Fontaine, "El ascetismo, ¿manzana de discordia entre latifundistas y obispos en la Tarraconense?" in Primero Concilio Caesaraugustano: MDC aniversario (Zaragoza, 1981), pp. 201-6; "Société et culture chrétiennes"; and "Valeurs antiques et valeurs chrétiennes dans la spiritualité des grands propriétaires terriens à la fin du IV e siècle occidental,'' in Epektasis: Mélanges patristiques offerts au Cardinal Jean Daniélou , ed. J. Fontaine and Ch. Kannengiesser (Beauchesne, 1972), pp. 571-95. [BACK]

57. Díaz y Díaz notes that the use of the word suspicionibus , or "opinions," is surprising if the reference is to the previously mentioned practices of fasting or ascetic withdrawal, as it seems to be, rather than to a doctrinal matter ("A propósito del Concilio de Zaragoza," pp. 226-27). Some prefer to translate suspicionibus as "suspicions," understood in the sense of "activities provoking suspicion" (e.g., Vollman, ''Priscillianus,'' col. 547). Ramos y Loscertales suggests in a rather complicated argument that the term refers exclusively to the practice of secluding one-self during Lent; he sees in the phrase qui in his suspicionibus perseverant a concession that changes an apparent prohibition into mere limitation: those who persist in living a retired life must still attend church every day during Lent and follow the example and precepts of their priests ( Prisciliano , pp. 52-53). [BACK]

58. The phrase causa temporis aut persuasionis aut supprestitionis consists of a series of conjectural explanations for the Sunday fast, each including an innuendo more damaging than the last, but all of them strikingly vague. Díaz y Díaz calls attention to this arrangement of terms in a gradated series, which he takes as a sign of a careful reworking of the language of the canon at some stage ("A propósito del Concilio de Zaragoza," pp. 229-80). Tempus is the vaguest of all and may refer to the day Sunday, or to the season of Lent, or even to the eschaton. Persuasio may be interpreted to mean either "belief," with connotations of falsehood or self-delusion, or "at the persuasion of others," implying an external source of delusion. Ramos y Loscertales follows the latter interpretation, suggesting that here as elsewhere in the second decision, authority is a key issue: the problem is influence of others outside the episcopal hierarchy ( Prisciliano , p. 53). Marie Odile Greffe likewise translates persuasionis as "under the influence of another" ("Etude sur le canon II du premier Concile," in Primero Concilio Caesaraugustano: MDC aniversario [Zaragoza, 1981], p. 163). The term superstitio has still stronger and more disturbing connotations of unorthodoxy or membership in an illegal religious sect like Manichaeism, whose adherents were known to fast on Sundays. [BACK]

59. Greffe relates the two practices of Sunday fasting and Lenten withdrawal directly, suggesting that the members of the group withdrew during Lent precisely in order to observe Sunday fasts and other ascetic disciplines ("Etude sur le canon II," p. 163). This seems to me a possible but not a necessary explanation of how the two practices come to be denounced in the same canon, since their conjunction could also be explained by the fact that one targeted group observed both practices. Ramos y Loscertales believes Priscillian advocated a Sunday fast all year ( Prisciliano , p. 108). [BACK]

60. Ep. 36.28. Cf. Jerome's protest, addressed to the Spaniard Lucinus, that Sunday fasting is not Manichaean ( Ep. 71.6). Of course, Sunday fasting has strong social as well as doctrinal implications. Vollman ("Priscillianus," col. 547), and Greffe ("Etude sur le canon II," pp. 165-66) call attention to the parallel with the Eustathians, who were condemned by the Council of Gangra not only for fasting on Sunday but also for eating on fast days observed by the rest of the church; here the emphasis seems to be not on the doctrinal implications of the practice but on the problematic refusal to conform to the dominant communal eating patterns. [BACK]

61. The choice of the word conventus was probably dictated by both its ascetic and pejorative connotations; like the term superstitio, conventus could invoke an image of secret and seditious meetings (see Fontaine, "El ascetismo," pp. 202-3). Conventus is also the term used in Priscillian's purported confession to convening nocturnal meetings of shameful women (Severus, Chron. 2.50). [BACK]

62. As with the first judgment, there is some question as to how the adjective alienus should be understood. Greffe considers the possible interpretations of "foreign" (e.g., Gallic), "pagan," and simply "other," in the sense of ''houses where the Christians are not in the habit of meeting for the regular liturgical assemblies''; she favors this final interpretation ("Etude sur le canon II," pp. 171-72). Díaz y Díaz goes so far as to suggest that the term is unintelligible in its present context and attributes the text's incoherence to successive stages of redaction ("A propósito del Concilio de Zaragoza," p. 227). But here, as in the first judgment, the term quite likely distinguishes between family members (including slaves and freed persons and other dependents of a household as well as those related by birth or marriage) and those who are not part of the household. Fontaine suggests that the intent may be to allow for gatherings among the inhabitants of an estate, who might even constitute a permanently settled religious community, while prohibiting those who live outside the estate to participate ("El ascetismo," p. 204). [BACK]

63. See especially Tract. 4, 58.6-20. [BACK]

64. ACS , can. 3, ll. 42-44. [BACK]

65. Manuel Sotomayor offers a recent and clear discussion of the various interpretations proposed by scholars ("El canon 3 del Concilio de Zaragoza del 380," in Primero Concilio Caesaraugustano: MDC aniversario [Zaragoza, 1981], pp. 177-87). [BACK]

66. Ibid., pp. 184-87. Although Sotomayor stresses that the motivations of those who abstain cannot be known with certainty, Vollman suggests that groups like the Priscillianists may have abstained from communion with Christians whom they considered "impure" ("Priscillianus," cols. 547-48). Vollman here leaves open the possibility, dismissed by Ramos y Loscertales ( Prisciliano , p. 55), that this decision is directed against the Priscillianists. Cf. Priscillian's remarks on the necessary purity of the priest who administers the sacrament of the Eucharist: "Quia corpus ac sanguinem Christi, quod est magnum pietatis sacramentum, manifestatum in carne, justificatum in spiritu, si quis indigne sumpserit, corporis ipsius sanginisque sit reus" ( Can. Ep. Pauli 42). [BACK]

67. ACS , can. 4, ll. 47-53. [BACK]

68. A three-week period of fasting and prayer before Christmas or Epiphany is mentioned in a fragment attributed to Hilary of Poitiers and in letters attributed to the Galician Bachiarius (Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , pp. 14-17). See also Luis García Iglesias, "Sobre el canon IV del Primer Concilio de Zaragoza," in Primero Concilio Caesaraugustano: MDC aniversario (Zaragoza, 1981), pp. 189-99. [BACK]

69. Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , p. 17. [BACK]

70. Augustine, Conf. 9.6. [BACK]

71. Priscillian, Tract. 1, 23.22-24.6. [BACK]

72. Chadwick, Priscillian of Avila , pp. 18-20. [BACK]

73. It is more likely that any perceived connection between Priscillian's ascetic practices and magic was fabricated by Ithacius than that it was due to any actual participation by Priscillian in magical rituals, as Chadwick suggests (ibid., pp. 18-20). Even Sulpicius Severus is sceptical about the basis of the charges of magic ( Chron. 2.46). Ramos y Loscertales takes a moderating stance, suggesting that Priscillian did indeed study magic out of a general intellectual curiosity in his pre-Christian youth, but never actually practiced it ( Prisciliano , pp. 74-75, 95, 101-2). [BACK]

74. Cf. Ramos y Loscertales's attempt to provide some sort of rational justification for the discrepancy by suggesting that the group targeted in the fourth judgment is different from the group targeted in the second, and that the bishops have less concern about whether they will be able to impose their authority on the former group (ibid., p. 54). [BACK]

75. ACS , can. 5, ll. 55-60. [BACK]

76. A more precise assessment of the intent of the judgment depends upon the interpretation of the phrase per disciplinam aut sententiam . I follow the looser interpretation of Díaz y Díaz, who suggests that the phrase signifies something fairly general like "through disciplinary judgment" ("A propósito del Concilio de Zaragoza," p. 229). According to Ramos y Loscertales, however, the elements of disciplina and sententia are distinct, with sententia referring to a condemnation for heresy, which requires the following of a formal procedure of accusation, interrogation, trial, and sentencing, and disciplina to a disciplinary excommunication, which requires no such formal procedure; in this view, the fifth judgment intends to enforce universal episcopal compliance both with a formal condemnation of heresy and with a disciplinary excommunication, whether issued by a bishop independently, by a bishop in enforcement of the conciliar decisions, or by the council itself ( Prisciliano , pp. 55-61). Ramos y Loscertales further suggests that Hydatius had excommunicated Instantius, Salvianus, Priscillian, and Elpidius before the council; that this excommunication was not accepted by the four or by Hyginus and some other bishops who received them in communion; and that in effort to strengthen the authority of the metropolitan bishop, the council supported his excommunication of the four by issuing its own disciplinary excommunication of the Lusitanian "rebels" and then by formulating the fifth judgment to force bishops to comply with both Hydatius' original excommunication and with the council's excommunication ( Prisciliano , pp. 31-36, 59-61). It is not necessary, however, to assume with Ramos y Loscertales that the fifth judgment refers to either of these undocumented excommunications, since it could equally well refer to excommunications anticipated as a consequence of the enforcement of the council's judgments (Vollman, "Priscillianus,'' col. 502). [BACK]

77. Cf. Elvira (309) can. 5, Arles (314) can. 17, Nicea (325) can. 5, Antioch (341) can. 6, Sardica (343) can. 13. See also Domingo Ramos-Lissón, "Estudio sobre el canon V del I Concilio de Caesaraugusta (380)," in Primero Concilio Caesaraugustano: MDC aniversario (Zaragoza, 1981), p. 223. [BACK]

78. Severus, Chron. 2.47. [BACK]

79. ACS , can. 6, ll. 63-68. There are a number of grammatical peculiarities in the language of this judgment. These may be attributable to the interpolation of marginal comments, as Díaz y Díaz suggests ("A propósito del Concilio de Zaragoza," pp. 230-32). Alternatively, they may reflect the text's close adherence to the verbal patterns of an original, complex discussion. [BACK]

80. Díaz y Díaz points out that a correct interpretation of the phrase "on account of presumed luxury and vanity" ( propter luxum vanitatemque praesumptam ) requires acknowledging not only the use of the rhetorical device of hendiadys (the breaking up of a single complex idea into a series), but also the allusion to Eccles. 6:9: "melius est videre quod cupias, quam desiderare quod nescias, sed et hoc vanitas est et praesumptio spiritus" ("A próposito del Concilio de Zaragoza," p. 231 n. 8 and p. 234). That is to say, the monks view the bishops' enjoyment of the goods of the world as vanity or "emptiness"; yet their "presumption'' is itself ''vanity," the bishops counter. Contrast the ascetic interpretation given to the same scriptural passage by Priscilllian: "nobis omnia quae sub sole sum vana sunt et praesumptio perversi spiritus, scientes eum cum mundo esse periturum" ( Tract. 1, 16.11-13). [BACK]

81. ACS , can. 7, ll. 70-73. [BACK]

82. Whether women would have been included among those recognized as "teachers" in the Spanish communities is difficult to determine. The council's first judgment reflects at least a tentative willingness to present women as the teachers of other women in order to seclude them from "strange men"; this evidence of course cuts both ways, as does the broader evidence for the masculinization of the teaching role in the fourth century. Susanna Elm's provocative study of Evagrius Ponticus' monastic rules for women and men is intriguing in this regard, insofar as it suggests that Evagrius is attempting to distinguish between the male ascetic goal of becoming a gnostikos of God, and therefore a teacher, and the female ascetic goal of "bodily" union with Christ, in which neither gnosis nor teaching plays a role ("Evagrius Ponticus' Sententiae ad Virginem ," Dumbarton Oaks Papers 45 [1991] 97-120). Elm herself notes, however, that Evagrius addresses his clearest articulation of his doctrine of gnosis to Melania, a female ascetic, and that exceptional ascetic women could be addressed as "teachers." In addition, one might question whether the broader ascetic corpus does not provide many instances in which the gender boundaries delineated by Elm's reading of Evagrius are blurred, not only by "gnostic" women, but also by men for whom homoerotic imagery continues to play a large role in the articulation of the spiritual goal of union with God. [BACK]

83. Prohibitive judgments that fail to specify a punishment generally reflect either extreme confidence on the part of the bishops, who have no fear of noncompliance, or extreme ambivalence and the desire to avoid confrontation on a ruling that might prove difficult to enforce (Leuchli, Power and Sexuality , pp. 33-38). [BACK]

84. Priscillian, Can. Ep. Pauli 39. [BACK]

85. Antonino Gonzáles Blanco surveys the role of teachers in the ancient church, rightly concluding that the seventh judgment presupposes a social context in which teaching authority is not centralized ("El canon 7 del Concilio de Zaragoza (380) y sus implicationes sociales," in Primero Concilio Caesaraugustana: MDC aniversario [Zaragoza, 1981], pp. 237-53). [BACK]

86. ACS , can. 8, ll. 75-78. [BACK]

87. Only a few years later, however, a Roman synod addressing Gallic bishops was careful to distinguish the two classes of virgins (Siricius, Ad gallos episcopos 1.3-4). There were two Aquitanian bishops at the council of Saragossa, but whether they or any other Gallic bishops shared the Roman view at this point is unknown. The Synod of Valence (374), at which Phoebadius was also present, made no distinction between veiled and unveiled virgins when prescribing penance for a dedicated virgin's transgression of her vow. [BACK]

88. Jerome did not object to the practice of Roman parents' dedicating their daughters to virginity at their birth, whereas Ambrose insisted that the vow should be voluntarily taken by the girl whenever she became spiritually mature (which might be as early as the onset of puberty at twelve), and the Council of Hippo in 393, followed by other African councils, set a minimum age of twenty-five for a virgin's consecretion. If it had in fact enforced the high minimum age requirement of forty, the Council of Saragossa would drastically have reduced the number of virgins wearing the veil. Following Keith Hopkins, "On the Probable Age Structure of the Roman Population," Population Studies 20 (1966):245-64, I calculate that assuming life expectancy for women at birth were thirty years and the patterns established in the U.N. model life tables applied, if women vowed virginity and "took the veil" at puberty (between the ages of ten and fourteen) and the number of new virgins each year were constant from 310 to 380, the bishops' ruling would have reduced the number of veiled virgins by more than 60 percent. If, on the other hand, the number of women vowing virginity doubled in the decade from 370 to 380, the reduction would be still greater, roughly 70 percent. [BACK]

89. The right of consecration implies an acknowledged liturgical role for the bishop. The earliest evidence of a liturgical ceremony of dedication is Ambrose's description of his sister's consecration by Pope Liberius in the basilica of St. Peter on Epiphany in the year 353 ( De virginibus 3.1.1); note, however, that Ambrose here makes no mention of veiling but only of donning a somber monastic habit. René Metz gives a thorough treatment of the consecration of virgins in late-fourth-century Rome in La Consécration des vierges dans l'église romaine (Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1954), pp. 95-138. Metz admits that there is no clear evidence of ceremonies of episcopal consecration of virgins in fourth- and fifth-century Gaul: "nous n'avons pour la Gaule aucun texte de cette époque qui exige effectivement du consecrateur des vierges le caractère épiscopal" ("La Consécration des vierges en Gaule, des origines à l'apparation des livres liturgiques," Revue de droit canonique 6 [1956]: 328). He nevertheless thinks such episcopal ceremonies commonly took place in Gaul as in Rome, citing as his primary support the letter traditionally attributed to Sulpicius Severus: "quasi sanctiores puriores que hostiae pro voluntatis suae meritis a Sancto Spiritu eliguntur, et per summam sacerdotem Dei offeruntur altario" ( Ep. 2 Ad Claudiam sororem de virginitate 1). The phrase "high priest" could, however, refer as easily to Christ as to the bishop, given the metaphorical character of the passage; note also the emphasis on the "merits of [the virgins'] will" rather than episcopal consecration; finally, the letter to which Metz refers is not securely tied to Gaul (see, e.g., B. R. Rees, The Letters of Pelagius and His Followers [Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1991], p. 71). On Gallic virgins more generally, see also Metz, "Les Vierges chrétiennes en Gaule au IV e siècle," in Saint Martin et son temps , Studia Anselmiana 46 (Rome: Herder, 1961), pp. 109-32. [BACK]

90. See Tertullian, De virginibus velandis . [BACK]

91. Consider, e.g., the abovementioned letter attributed traditionally to Sulpicius Severus: "Nam et Christi sponsas virgines dicere ecclesiastica nobis permittit auctoritas, dum sponsarum modo eas Domino consecrat et velat, ostendens eas vel maxime habituras spirituale connubium quae subterfugerint carnale consortium" ( Ep. 2 Ad Claudiam sororem de virginitate 1). Raymond d'Izarnay argues for a very close correlation between the fourth-century Christian marriage rite, velatio conjugalis , and the ritual veiling of virgins as practiced by Ambrose in Milan in the late fourth century ("Marriage et consécration virginale au IV e siècle," Vie spirituelle , suppl. 24 [1953]: 92-118). [BACK]

92. Compare the costume of ancient Roman priestesses: the flaminica Dialis wore a red bridal veil, and the Vestal Virgins dressed their hair like brides. On the crucial function of this "liminal" dress in defining the priestesses' power, see Mary Beard, "The Sexual Status of Vestal Virgins," Journal of Roman Studies 70 (1980): 12-27, and N. Boels, "Le Statut religieux de la flaminica Dialis," Revue des études latines 51 (1973): 77-100. [BACK]

93. I tend to assume that the women themselves, as well as the bishops, would have experienced the ruling as an attempt to reverse their social and spiritual elevation as perpetual virgins--itself a liminal reversal of their "normal" status as women. Note however the important critique of Carolyn Walker Bynum, who cautions that "liminality" may itself be an androcentric category and highlights the element of continuity--rather than reversal or elevation--in medieval women's appropriations of the polysemic symbol of the "bride of Christ," for example (''Women's Stories, Women's Symbols: A Critique of Victor Turner's Theory of Liminality,'' in Anthropology and the Study of Religion , ed. R. L. Moor and F. E. Reynolds [Chicago: CSSR, 1984], pp. 105-25). Susanna Elm, who cites Bynum's work, brings a slightly different perspective to bear on the theme of female "continuity," noting that Evagrius Ponticus views ascetic women as differing from their male counterparts in that they do not progress spiritually in this life but achieve mystical union with Christ only in the moment of their deaths ("Evagrius Ponticus' Sententiae ad virginem ," pp. 111-14). Certainly, a similar tendency in the view of ascetic women can be documented for the late-fourth-century west, e.g., in the attention given to the highly eroticized deaths--rather than the lives--of the virgin martyrs so extravagantly praised by men like Ambrose of Milan or the Spaniard Prudentius. Here, however, we are clearly still in the realm, not of women's self-understanding, but of alternative androcentric readings of women's ascetic "liminality." [BACK]

94. Sotomayor notes concern about the "weaknesses of virgins" in fourth-century Spain in the following episcopal documents: Elvira (c. 300) can. 13, Siricius' letter to Himerius of Tarragona (385), and Toledo (400) can. 6 ("Sobre el canon VIII del Concilio de Zaragoza del 380," in Primero Concilio Caesaraugustano: MDC aniversario [Zaragoza, 1981], p. 261). [BACK]

95. Aristotle ( Historia animalium 7.5.585a) and Pliny the Elder ( Historia naturalis 7.14.61) regard forty as the average age of menopause; Soranus ( Gynaeciorum 1,4.20) puts it between forty and fifty; and Oribasius ( Eclogae medicamentorum 142) opts for fifty (D. Amundsen and C. J. Diers, "The Age of Menopause in Classical Greece and Rome," Human Biology 42 [1970]: 79-86). [BACK]

96. Once past menopause, a woman was no longer perceived as desirous, desirable, or even fully female. Jerome remarks that a postmenopausal woman "ceases to be a woman and is freed from the curse of God" (mulier esse desiit, a Dei maledictione fit libera), i.e., she no longer desires or is subjected to her husband ( Adversus Helvidium 20). Thus the postmenopausal woman is transformed, not only physically and socially, but also theologically, being returned to her prelapsarian state. [BACK]

97. Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women, and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), pp. 260-61. [BACK]

98. Elizabeth Castelli emphasizes the extent to which early Christianity "adopted the reigning idea of women's sexuality as token of exchange and reinforced it by investing it with theological significance" ("Virginity and Its Meaning for Women's Sexuality in Early Christianity," Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 2 [1986]: 86). [BACK]

99. Consider especially Prudentius' spectacular portraits of the virgin martyrs Eulalia and Agnes ( Peristephanon 3, 14). See also Patricia Cox Miller's nuanced treatment of Jerome's deeply ambivalent response to the young virgin Eustochium's sexuality in "The Blazing Body: Ascetic Desire in Jerome's Letter to Eustochium," Journal of Early Christian Studies 1 (1993): 21-45. [BACK]

100. Laeuchli, Power and Sexuality , p. 4. [BACK]

101. Peter Brown, "Pelagius and His Supporters: Aims and Environment," Journal of Theological Studies , n.s., 19 (1968): 98, uses the metaphor of centrifugal force to describe Pelagianism's tendency "to scatter, to form a pattern of little groups, each striving to be an élite , each anxious to rise above their neighbours and rivals." [BACK]

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